Change

Warning: we are Busy bee leaders!

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Leaders are also judged by the experience they give to their stakeholders or only the financial impact on the organisation?

I get 200 emails per day, lamented my colleague when I pointed my emails going unanswered, we are not CEO’s, labour class she replied with sarcasm. I felt guilty that we had created a world like that for her but could offer no solution to her inbox issues.

Business Statistics site DMR reports that an average worker gets 121 emails per day. We all know how many such can be humanly answered.

One of our GMs promptly used to leave the office at 6 PM even though most of us could never finish work before 9 PM. He was running the most successful businesses at that time and role model for many. We used to frown at his back and bickered that it must be easy to be in a leadership position like him, as most of us at the bottom of the pyramid were slogging for him. A few years later, he took on a struggling business that was making massive losses. We saw his intensity increasing but never saw 2 AM emails or weekend working. In about 2 years, we saw that business turning around to be a jewel for the organisation. He never complained of bandwidth or pressure, whenever we met him we saw him as a great leader with high energy, new plans and he gave lots of practical advice and best practices to us. He used to say, “Double down deep, don’t expand too much.”

External Impact

“I will take the call on the way to the airport,” I told my colleague. She promptly organized the call. That was my way of optimizing my busy schedule. I had to interview a prospective employee for the organisation. The call dropped multiple times thanks to the network, and then we were stopped by cops as the cabbie was over speeding; I had to get down to intervene. We finally reached the airport after these interventions and concluded the call as I got off the cab. She promptly texted me a few hours later, stating she did not want to pursue a role with us further.

I felt embarrassed reading her long text, which said the experience left her feeling less valued on who she was. She counted that call dropped 7 times, and the numerous breaks meant it was a call done to fit into my busy schedule than evaluating the fitment with any real intent. If the role were important, we possibly would have been sensitive on how we went about scheduling and conducting the interview. I could only apologise and let her move on. Was she overreacting, or were we plain insensitive? Were we acting like a large corporation? I was left thinking how little things can make a positive difference… but her feedback was indeed helpful advice.

Internal Acceptance

It was day one of the new sales guys in the office, and When I met him in the evening for his induction, he mentioned his boss, the sales head, is yet to meet him. He said he has been busy with client calls since morning. Though they had a scheduled call, it had to be postponed. He wasn’t complaining. He said as a sales guy, I understand that clients come first. I am sure you must have seen many joinees loitering around the office waiting for the busy senior colleagues to meet them. Is the organisation at fault for making the leaders busy or accepting the culture of leaders being busy?

On another occasion, we missed a press release deadline. My marketing associate said he couldn’t find enough time on his calendar and was stretched to meet the pre-decided deadline.

Should we argue that the above 2 examples, thought different contexts, might be outliers to many meetings held timely and deadlines being met? Quite possible!

However, there are many signals one gets about the poor experiences that impact lives of employees and customers get because your leaders are always busy?

The Signs

How do you know that the organisation is affecting the experiences of its key stakeholders like employees, customers, and partners?

  1. When your leaders are not available most of the time and you find them continuously saying, “I am busy, bandwidth Nahi hai.”
  2. Leaders missing deadlines, Not turning up for meetings, taking ages to respond to emails or WhatsApp’s
  3. Their reportees constantly crying to get their leaders time and sending “gentle reminders"
  4. Constant rescheduling of reviews/meetings
  5. Phones always busy, and the call backs taking its own sweet time

How I wish there was a comprehensive book or a pocket guide on these signs for new leaders to use as a desk reference. Would call that a Busy Leader’s Handbook!

The Outcome

Could the following be the predictable outcomes when we have busy leaders?

a)  Low engagement

b)  Low productivity

c)  High Attrition

d)  Customer loss

HBR says

An HBR study, that can be a great training tool, plotted a Focus_Energy matrix which identified 4 types of behaviors in managers; disengagement, procrastination, distraction, and purposefulness.

While both focus and energy are positive traits, neither alone is sufficient to produce the kind of purposeful action organizations need most from their managers and their team members. Poor time management and focus without energy devolves into listless execution or leads to burnout. Energy without focus dissipates into purposeless busyness or, in its most destructive form, a series of wasteful failures. Building high-performance companies requires not just the best talent but also smart leadership decisions and employee engagement.

This study exemplified that only 10% of the managers spend time in purposeful activities, 30% spend time in procrastination, 20% are disengaged, and 40% are distracted. So, now you know how 90% of managers are busy although they dutifully perform routine tasks—attending meetings, writing emails, making phone calls, and so on—they fail to take the initiative, raise the level of performance, or engage with strategy. These people coast along in the chronically passive state that psychologist Martin Seligman called it “learned helplessness.”

Proportion of meaningfully engaged senior executives seems to one of the common business challenges for organizations of all sizes!

Describing Busy

If you find yourself jumping from meeting to meeting, dousing fire after fire, checking countless Emails/WhatsApp’s constantly, making or taking countless calls, feel like taking a vacation every month or sense perpetual need for a deputy to manage half of what you are doing, then you are like me, one of the proud and busy leaders.

The question we need to ask ourselves is if we are distracted, disengaged, or a procrastinators or want to be like one of my GMs described in the beginning, a purposeful good leader with high energy and high focus all through his years of experience.

When I started my career, I found myself busy learning the job. When I worked for a start-up for the first time, I felt there weren’t enough resources and we stretched till we collapsed. When I became a manager for the first time in an MNC leadership role, I worked long hours to show efforts give results, and when finally I became a CEO, I was busy traveling, and then as an entrepreneur, I choose to be busy working 80 hours a week and training to become a better leader.

Pre-Covid I spent 2 hours a day traveling and now in remote working, I still end my day at 8 pm.

Maybe I chose the wrong set of employers or roles

or

I like to be a busy bee?

my first lie before many

My first Lie before the Many…..

800 371 Kamal Karanth

We all frown upon people who lie to us at work; we call it integrity and, in many cases, like to shun such colleagues first time or on repeated lies. 

Keep it to yourself, for now, as it is still confidential” is a famous overused line with our favorite colleagues. Has this phrase unknowingly created a huge trust issue across the organization between managers and their teams. Team members judge/trust their manager based on how they fairly disseminate information. As a leader/manager, I have found myself fairly inconsistent over a period of time on this issue. I can’t say if I lied, exaggerated, withheld information due to my role or the context I was in. One thing is true I was economical with the truth on many such occasions in the name of contextual confidentiality. Now, when I look back, I can clearly trace those roots.

First Interview

There were above 400 people in the MG road hotel compound when I walked in for my first job interview. I felt like walking away, intimidated by the atmosphere and the sheer number of people in suits & ties waiting for their turn. The energy and smart conversations around me were simply overwhelming. I made a few friendly conversations with other first-time jobseekers as I waited for my turn to be interviewed. I was eventually called in and told that I was shortlisted for the written test and needed to come the next day. But the interviewer told me strictly that I can’t tell this anyone outside. If anyone asks, I was to share that I will be informed later once everyone is screened.

As I came out, one of the candidates whom I had befriended also walked out of another room after his screening round. He looked happy, and We walked together to the bus stand, sharing our experiences. He mentioned that he did well and he would be informed later once everyone is screened. I shared with him the feedback I got too. As he left for his bus, I felt very uneasy about the situation. It wasn’t the first time I had lied. I had done that maybe a million times with my parents, which wasn’t new for me.

I was worried if he too turned up tomorrow for the written test and how awkward it would be if I bump into him. I walked in the next day uneasily anxious about facing him than about passing the written test. Luckily I did not see him there and went on to pass the written test too. After that, the drill while waiting for the interviews was similar. We made new friends, but we would lie to each other on the same topic, though some of us knew we were coming the next day. In the end couple of us got offered and joined. Luckily I hadn’t met these two joiners during interviews, and it was easier to start with them as colleagues.

So what’s the summary of all the English above? The guys who were clearing the so-called interview rounds were every day practicing the art of lying and the guys who were being rejected were telling the truth, at least on the interview results!

Lie to Lies

When I landed my first job, should I say I had successfully passed the test of lying with a straight face? I thought lying to parents about bunking classes for movies wasn’t a crime. The interview act, anyhow, was the pathway to my first job; Hence, justifiable? Later, the induction slides talked about the definition of integrity. Amongst many things, it meant violating the norms of the company, lying to bosses and colleagues. At least that’s how I understood it. Some of the colleagues were fired based on integrity. Mostly, we believed they cheated on the company either by misappropriation of companies materials or transgressing the company’s rules and, in some cases, blatantly lying to supervisors.

Exaggeration vs. Lies

In many of the internal settings, we end up confusing our colleagues. The proof of it is seen is in sales where there is a thin line between exaggeration on capability and delivery. If the customer says do you have stocks to deliver, you possibly would say off course and then come back and beg your distributor/retailer/manager to stock up because you have promised to your customer. When you see your boss exaggerating to the customer that the company has already done this before or well-staffed to execute a new project, you sort of pick up the hints that it's ok to lie as it seems harmless to win a deal or tide over a situation.

The Manager conundrum

As you grow up the ladder, you tend to specialize in this art of exaggeration or lying as you have to get exposed to them frequently. You go to a strategy meeting, and after all the discussions, you are told to please wait till the CEO officially announces it. Till then, it's confidential. Meanwhile, some of the managers would have already shared this with their confidants, and before you know, your reportees already know what you hid from them. So, it would look as though you withheld information from your team. Or, in some cases, you couldn’t contain the excitement on the new strategy that you leaked it to some of your favorite team members, and they told their friends. Everybody in the team knew about it unofficially, and you were still waiting for the official announcement. So it’s a nice game we all play knowingly, acting ignorant in the name of confidentiality. Think of that famous test you put your boss into or your reportee played on you.

Team member: I heard that there is going to be massive restructuring, and there will be layoffs

Supervisor: Who told you there is nothing like that? Won't I tell you if I knew any of these

Team MemberEveryone is talking about it, some of the managers who came back from Hq have mentioned it to their team members, Please please don’t ask who told me, But everyone on the floor is talking about it.

Then we end up admitting about the news not to appear ignorant or left out, we end up closing the conversation by saying, “keep it to yourself, it's still not official.

The Confidentiality Bollocks

The attraction of being a manager or aspiration leadership roles have been the access to information and, of course, power. It seems like every piece of information you get from the top of the decision you take is worthy of it if it remains accessible to a few, or you can share it discreetly. What’s the fun of everyone knowing everything? Imagine if every decision is announced directly to all by the CEO as soon as s/he makes it. There is no fun in it. Let’s list the information we hide or lie about in the name of confidentiality…

  1. Hiring & firings (who is coming next and who is going & why )
  2. Promotions, new vacancies, new projects, restructuring
  3. Salary freeze, cuts, bonus payouts, next offsite, overseas trips

We can argue that these are delayed information and not lying per se. But, every time any of our team members ask us about any of the above, we can't help but say it's confidential?

Preservation

There are times when we withhold the “Why” even if we know it as it would hurt the integrity of certain roles or people who are affected by it. If you know your peer/colleague got fired and one of your curious colleagues asked ‘why’ it would be difficult to share the information even if you know s/he were terminated. So, there are many situations where not being truthful at the moment is not equivalent to lying. But, when your boss asks why you are leaving and you replying that “taking a break, going overseas, pursuing studies” and then joining competition next week is a lie, however, that’s done for self-preservation! So, let us park that elsewhere.

To survive, grow, self-preserve or follow instructions, we need to resort to communication patterns that might discredit the person we are or the role we hold. This may render us dishonest, liars, not trustworthy, or exaggerators in many contexts.

The Cultural Extension

The instances and the contexts I have explained might appear trivial to some of us. However, If this becomes the way, it has a huge impact on its culture and performance. Accenture’s Competitive Agility Index — a 7,000-company, 20-industry analysis, for the first time tangibly quantified how a decline in stakeholder trust impacts a company’s financial performance. The analysis reveals more than half (54%) of companies on the index experienced a material drop in trust — from incidents such as product recalls, fraud, data breaches, and C-suite missteps — which equates to a minimum of $180 billion in missed revenues.

Neuropsychological evidence suggests that lying requires higher working memory capacity, which is strongly related to IQ. As Swift said, “he who tells a lie is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for to uphold one lie, he must invent twenty others.”

When you look into the mirror, can you recall the instances where you were economical with the truth with your colleagues and still did not feel bad about it?

Mind your own Business?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
Why and when do we become a spectator in our team meetings from being an active player.

It was lunch break and day one of our leadership team overseas, my boss called me aside and said, “maybe you can be an active listener during our peer presentations, our peers have done better than last year, Our team is trailing in numbers, and this is not the time to be giving suggestions to others.”

Next few sessions, I sat through frustrated but pretended to make notes to keep my focus away. I always had a perspective on my peers 🙂 and felt I was depriving them of my valuable inputs and criticism. In my head, I was thinking, “what the heck, man, just a few quarters ago, I ran the most profitable unit, and I know a thing or two about running a business.”

However, my new silent act wasn’t missed by our CEO and HR Director. They swung by during breakfast the next morning and asked about my reticent avatar. I confessed to them about my own performance context and why it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on other businesses. I resisted my temptation to blame my boss 🙂. They asked me to keep aside my mental blocks and participate freely in the true spirit of institution-building. Their take was that we rarely meet as a leadership team, and the ideas the feedback was valuable in a neutral setting. Otherwise, each leader is in their own bubble of their team and could do better with peer feedback.

MYOB

That CEO and HRD are a rare breed. I wondered what my peers in that forum must be thinking when I gave them feedback, questioned some assumptions, and criticized some of the strategies. I am pretty sure my peers must be filled with thoughts like

a. We know how to run our businesses

b. Our performance speaks for ourselves. How about you?

c. Can you clean up your house before you ask us anything?

In short, “mind your own business” is the real world when we aren’t performing ourselves.

Performance Presence

In my time with another employer, we had a different culture. One of my colleagues was usually at the top of the performance table. Her unit used to drop a few million dollars to the bottom-line constantly, and in a way, she used to fund the loss-making units in our organization. Naturally, our bosses felt she had the right for the mike, and invariably they would go to her for any inputs in our regional meetings. In that organization, it was explicit/implicit that you can speak up if you have the performance. This is not new as we have got pretty much used to this atmosphere from our schooling days where the teachers paid more attention to students who scored more. By now, many of us have gotten used to the fact that we flex our muscles when we are considered performers and shut our trap when we know that we are also in the also-ran category.

Peer Dynamics

I am sure this performance halo must be spilling on to the discussions we have with our peers too. Have you evaluated the conversation dynamics with your peers? When you are performing

Are you more opinionated and in the telling mode?

Do you ever observe your dominating tone and how you cut off your peers because you feel better?

On the other hand, when your team hasn’t delivered would you

i. Skip meeting peers if you can?

ii. Avoid eye to eye conversations or

The positive impact of colleagues’ presence and crowd pressure

800 371 Kamal Karanth
WFH lacks the co-action effect — improved showing in the midst of colleagues

Dhoni would have won us two of the three matches we lost so far in IPL had there been a typical full house crowd, lamented a CSK fan. No other person can handle the close finish pressures like Mahi, he argued. Similarly, many of my friends have felt that Kohli would perform differently in front of a packed stadium with cheering fans. I am trying to make sense of this argument and relate it to the world of work, where the talk is more about engagement and less about the pressures that bring out the best in people. But, let us admit the fact that anxiety and audience bring out the best in some of us at work too.

Sales pressure

Most sales organisations thrive on pressure. Some create the atmosphere through systems and processes; many others through their leaders’ behaviours. We used to dread meetings with our sales head when he had the mike. He used to call out in front of 50 other people the mediocre performances. However, many of us came back with stronger performances the next quarter. Of course, many of us were performing in anticipation of incentives, increments, and promotions too. But my sense of those days was that more people were worried about keeping their jobs and losing their face in front of a crowd than motivated by rewards and recognition.

The price of pressure

Wall Street assesses IPO-bound CEOs on their ability to handle pressure. Stanford professor Elizabeth Blankespoor’s study of 224 pre-IPO roadshows assessed how CEOs were perceived in terms of competence and attractiveness and the impact it had on the final IPO pricing. At these roadshows, the leaders don’t really share more than what is in the prospectus. Yet, fund managers and analysts jostle for seats at these events. They don’t come there for breakfast, but to assess the CEO’s competence, mainly how they handle the audience. These seem to make a difference in the initially proposed price and the revised final offer price. The study said a 5 per cent increase in perception scores of the CEO yields an additional 11 per cent boost in the final market price. Oh! That’s some crowd pressure on the CEO!

Templates of pressure

Everyone responds to pressure in varying degrees. Customers, competitors, bosses, colleagues, all of us. Is there a systematic way of creating it? Daily dashboards, unachievable targets, unreasonable deadlines, intimidating townhalls, team reviews, customer NPS scores, annual awards, competitor market share, are some enterprise tools used to create pressures of different kinds on multiple people.

Even simple group emails can create stress on people. Picture this: our boss used to send a monthly performance note to all his team members. If we did not find a mention in his message, we knew we were in trouble. So till his next monthly note, we used to work our back off to get the right side of his attention. His template was a public secret, and he used that pretty well.

The Side Effects of Hiring from Competition

The Side Effects of Hiring from Competition

800 371 Kamal Karanth

Ever budgeted for your competitors' reaction when you pinch their talent? 

The reasons to hire talent from rivals are obvious, right? You get a trained talent with some trade secrets who can hit the road running. It’s a great bargain for the talent too as they get a premium salary while they switch over to their rival. Win, Win? Not without its share of headaches though! Ever thought of the reaction of some competitors who might be sour with you for ripping off their prized possession? What do you expect them to do?

Does your opposite number buy you coffee or sent a legal notice? I got variants of both.

Let us start with coffee ️. I was pleasantly surprised that I would be called to Starbucks for a meet just after hiring a couple of talent from them. In hindsight, it was far 'two' many. Five minutes into the meeting, I was told that skeletons were found after they left, and he was glad that I cleaned up their dirty closet. Then came the threat; if any of their clients were contacted, their lawyers were ready. It ended on a hostile note, and we paid only for our coffees and drove away!

Their CEO ensured that his meeting with me went viral with his staff so that they think twice before accepting another offer from competitors. I think it worked, and I did not recruit from them for another year.🤫 Thereafter every time I bumped into him in a coffee shop I looked over his shoulder to see who he was meeting. I knew many of his team members were joining the competition and he soon built a reputation as somebody who goes after his ex-staff and peer group. You can say he was a possessive & passionate CEO or somebody who had time for all these distractions!

Freelancers: The life of a poet with the pay of a banker

Freelancers: The life of a poet with the pay of a banker?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
That’s the freelancers dream – but how often does reality match the vision?

Two companies in the global talent world are enjoying their moment of sunshine despite the pandemic. No, they have not pivoted to manufacture PPEs. They are in the right place, right time as freelancer platforms. On NYSE, Fiverr, and Upwork both have seen their stock prices rise by 400% and 66 %, respectively. That’s not all – they returned the faith of their investors by reporting stellar results last quarter.

Back home, we know the gig train has left the station, propelled by the pandemic. However, multiple frictions in the ecosystem inhibit freelancing from becoming mainstream for talent and enterprises.

Enterprises Utopia

60% employees, 20% contingent workers, 10%t freelancers, 5% interns, and 5 % projects to IIT students – that would be my ideal workforce distribution of tomorrow,” declares a CHRO of a large IT MNC.

In a crisis like this pandemic, such a flexible talent map would have been ideal. But, it’s easier said than done. Organisations do not have the technology, process, or structural support to execute such a plan. Already, there is a struggle to hire full-time employees on time. Culturally integrating full time and contract workers is a continuing challenge for HR. Throw freelancers to that mix, and it becomes more complicated. Even if enterprises are keen to get freelancers, sourcing them in time is going to be their Achilles heel.

The Talent Dilemma

In a recent survey of freelancers, when asked why they opted for gig work, a respondent said, “To be the master of my own destiny.” However, does the reality match? Of 1,000 freelancers surveyed recently, 46% admitted that they had lost their work/clients during the current pandemic. A study by Dinghy, an insurance provider to freelancers and self-employed, says more than 50% freelancers felt they over-served their clients, and 30% said they don’t get paid by their customers at all.

38% of the freelancers said getting new work and customers were the most significant challenges. Unlike full-time employment, income continuity is not guaranteed as a freelancer. Moreover, as a single point of responsibility, 98% of freelancers admitted they were working even during time off as they are in charge of everything.

The ‘back to office’ rush — is it wise?

The ‘back to office’ rush — is it wise?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
Are corporates adequately geared up to be back at the office or making a hash of it?

Quick Base, the 1 billion $ SAAS company, hired Ed Jennings as their new CEO this May. However, he is yet to visit their Massachusetts headquarters. That shouldn’t be surprising anymore. But still, I need to ask you this!

How many of you are itching to go to the office, sit in the cafeteria, and have a cup of coffee with your favorite colleagues? I am sure many of us are raring to go depending on the roles we play and the trust levels we have with our employers and colleagues. But the tone of the majority of employees globally and in India is of caution. Almost half of the employees polled by PWC in the USA recently said safety measures like mandatory testing and temperature checks before going onsite still don’t inspire confidence. Back home the survey by FYI recently highlighted that more than 93% of workers were anxious to return to the office on fear of their health being compromised.

Safety or Normalcy

So, where do we draw the line between the safety of employees and the enterprise need to declare a return to normalcy? Employers who house a large number of office workers are thoroughly confused.

When I heard that one of my entrepreneur friends had terminated their office lease, I thought the business must have been affected severely. However, when I spoke to him, he said, “I don’t want to risk the lives of my employees and their dear ones just because I feel there are advantages of being at the office. After all, in the work we do, most of us are still productive, and our work can still be done out from anywhere.”

However, not every enterprise can carry out its work in the remote model. From Textiles to many manufacturing units where hands and legs do the job, physical presence is inevitable. However, for knowledge-based organisations and roles which can be worked from anywhere, what’s driving the rush back to the office? The recent outbreak of Covid, some even leading to death at a few large Indian enterprises, begs the question. Is India Inc making hash out of the return to the office? What’s playing out inside the enterprises which otherwise can continue WFH but still preferring to come back to the office?

 

The Real Estate angle

In the USA, Amazon and Apple have invested billions of dollars in sparkling new facilities that can house thousands of employees. Large Indian cities have also seen large enterprises and real estate companies making significant commitments to constructing huge sprawling offices. These investments will be weighing on the CFO’s mind when they are advising their CEOs. Some of the Enterprise facilities are so large that social distancing in the office might be possible by working in shifts or rostering of employees. Employers sure will take care of the hygiene and safety of employees in offices, but they might be ignoring a critical angle, the commute. Most employees have to use multiple modes of public transport to reach their place of work, and that increases the touchpoints. How will that safety be accounted for, and who shall be responsible for that?

Caught in the past

“Our CEO thinks all the leaders coming to the office give the right signal to our staff said a Technology company CXO. So, in the last few weeks, we are in the office and conducting our work from the confines of our cabins, he said. Even with my EA, I speak on skype, all my DRs are in their own offices, and we communicate on Zoom he continued.”Can these video interfaces not happen from home?” I asked; He smiled and alluded that “our CEO believes that working in the office increases collaboration and we have limited voice in this matter.  In our internal surveys, most employees still don’t want to come but are forced to sign declarations about their willingness to report due to the nudge.” The point here is not about who is calling the shots but how we are caught in the past about work processes.

What’s your managerial hack?

800 371 Kamal Karanth
In your team do people respond better to

1. Engagement?

2. Rewards and Recognition?

3. Competition?

4. Pressure?

5. Naming and Shaming?

We can argue 2 and 3 are the same as in a way we recognize only the winners and leave out the also-ran. In my view, we use all of them interchangeably, depending on how motivated or frustrated we are about our teams!

Or

I wonder if it’s our individual make up that drives our managerial behavior…Meaning if we are wired to respond better to competition, that’s the tool we possibly use more? Many of us are used to the competition thanks to our education system, and maybe it has become part of our DNA.

What’s your interview wait time?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

“All the 3 rounds of #interviews, the average wait time was about 45 minutes” when she brought that stat out, I wondered, is Interview Wait Time (IWT) a metric worth measuring?

We already measure many things like time to hire, quality of hire (still fuzzy), cost per hire, and not to forget how many we hired.

Let us say #hr gave hiring managers a score on

1) The average time to respond to a CV

2) Time taken to allot an interview schedule

3) Number of reschedules per interview

4) Average waiting time per interview

5) Number of days taken to give feedback post-interview

Don’t forget the numerous follow-ups in between to nudge for each of the processes to take place.

We do take post-hiring feedback on a scale of 10 on different parameters. But, the ‘experience’ of getting hired is often ignored when we get the salary, title, role of our choice, and some of us might be generous or forget things like wait time.

Let’s do an average waiting time for an enterprise if they

a) Interviewed 4 people for every each hire

b) Recruited 200 people a month

b) Did 3 rounds of interview

c) Had an average wait time of 30 minutes

Thats 4 x 200 x 3 x 30 = 72,000 Minutes per month 🤐

Meet the new interviewer and job seekers

Meet the New Interviewer and Job Seeker

800 371 Kamal Karanth
As layoffs become common, will we find more honest job seekers and empathetic interviewers in days to come?

Layoffs have been like weight-loss programs for companies. But for employees, being shed as a part of an enterprise’s flab is not a great start for a job-hunt. Failed business models, poor management and client losses — the usual answers that candidates give to explain layoffs are passé now. Even the fittest of companies have got a jolt in Covid times so can we just say Covid when asked “why” and get to the next question? But that’s easier said than done!

A Typical Interview

“Are you still with the company?” the CTO asked the VP candidate she interviewed last week. He said yes. But he was actually serving notice after being laid off. After the interview, I asked him why he said that. He said, “I thought if I told her the truth, she might think I am not good enough. “But, your relieving letter would bare it all. And you may not get this job,” I said with some agitation. This guy had three promotions in the last seven years and was a director with an Insurance Tech Company.

Then I turned my attention to the CTO and asked her why she was still asking those old questions. By that I meant checking for antecedents than focussing on skills and potential. She did not like it. But I am hoping she and many others would change their ways of interviewing and not look at laid off people with a coloured lens.

The shadow of Layoffs

Picture any job interview in the past; the interviewers and the job seekers more or less played the roles described above. The interviewer interrogates the candidate on why he or she wants to leave the current company, and checks the motive to join the current one. The job seeker gives those perfect answers covering the track on why they were leaving. Most interviewers focussed less on skills & fitment. Their eyes were on the “why” which is difficult to compare when you have multiple candidates for the same role.

The mysterious shadow of a layoff has, in the past, always lurked around while meeting a candidate. Especially in India and some of the eastern nations. Layoffs receive a different response in various geographies and cultures. Sweden supports laid off employees till they find their next job, and German enterprises allow time for a cool off, but Japan has its “chasing out rooms”. A baseline stigma, if not taboo, has always existed around layoffs in India.

I am trying hard to recollect a laid-off job seeker who walked in all peppy for an interview. The burden of a layoff, irrespective of the context or reason, is often heavy enough to dwarf the candidate.

Why You

The whole process of hiring has been done under a cloud of suspicion. CV fudging, tenure manipulations, inaccurate role descriptions, presenting inflated salaries have decreased the trust of employers. We know many employers who have rejected high potential senior leaders purely because reference checks revealed s/he was laid off or fired from the previous job. The larger let-down has been that the job seeker did not share those facts during the interview. Enterprises were right to consider these as integrity violations. However, from the job-seeker’s point of view, Indian enterprises haven’t shown enough character to accept and hire laid-off professionals easily.